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Wild 9: A Forgotten Shiny Classic

There comes a time when a game company strives to change the formula of the games they're familiar with developing, going for something ambitious, not really done before, and attempting to mesmerize the consumer with their newly implemented ideas. After Earthworm Jim creator Doug TenNapel left Shiny Entertainment, the president and former game programmer Dave Perry wanted to try something new for the platformer genre, mixing the cartoony charm of their once wormy game hero with a darker tone.

One of the earliest magazine advertisements for the game in 1997 following their previous game, MDK.

So what's the story? A teenager named Wex Major (the player's character) finds himself stranded in outer space when he's found by a group of teenage misfits part of an intergalactic resistance. He ends up becoming their new leader, now calling the group "The Wild 9" and giving him a new type of weapon, called The Rig, an attachment for his armor that sends out an electrifying-like grapple that can hurl enemies and swing him over to unreachable places.

Unfortunately for him, an evil tyrant of the universe named Karn wants the Rig for himself, with Wex being his target. Before taking him down however, Karn has captured different members of the Wild 9 group scattered on different planets.

Most of the platforming will rely on using Wex's Rig for swinging and not only killing his enemies, but using them on a hazardous path, like platforms to traverse spikes.

As for the gameplay, certain planetary levels will have platforming involved, with some others having their own separate concepts, such as free falling levels, and chasing enemies on a hoverbike. Aside from just making it from point A to point B in levels, there will ocassionally be branching paths in a 2.5D fashion, and you'll come across these small "tokens" to collect, 99 in all toward getting an extra life. By torturing enemies in certain ways with the Rig, a percentage also goes to the same reward. You don't just have to use your Rig for enemies however, there's also missiles and grenades you'll find in some areas.

So you may be asking, "why isn't the game as remembered?" as Wild 9 released in the fall of 1998, there were already some huge titles that made its way on the Playstation. Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 2, Crash Bandicoot: Warped, even Gex had made his comeback that year with many more overshadowing it. It probably didn't help that David Perry himself found the game not that impressive to look at during its beta stages of development.

Wex Major's 3D models from original beta to final release

As for the game's reception, it got mostly above average scores through many video game magazines that were published at the time, some saying that it felt like a worthy evolution of Earthworm Jim, even though some of the charm had been lost. Unlike Jim though, Wild 9 didn't quite reach the success that Shiny had expected. Rumors had even gone around saying that if the game had sold well enough that there may have been a planned cartoon series, much like how Earthworm Jim got.

Overall, my own opinion of the game seems to be in the same boat of the reviews. While Wild 9 does make that attempt to be its own thing, it's certainly a great game to play, and far from being bad despite being able to finish it in one sitting. If you haven't played the game yourself, I say give it a buy if you can find it for dirt cheap, it's one of Shiny's last good games before they got bought out.

Did you know? Tommy Tallarico (the music composer of Wild 9 and shown on the left) is also the voice of Wex Major.

That about wraps up this little history of one of Shiny's last games of the 1990s. Do you have memories playing Wild 9? Leave a comment and as always, see you next article!

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Benjanime Posted on Sep 01, 2021 at 12:02 AM

@Julie

i'm glad you enjoyed it, my sweet muffin ❤ yeah, as we can see one of those last signs of the company's greatness was put into wild 9 including tommy tallarico's music composition as he'd done for earthworm jim :) a demo! so impressive, my love :D

Julie Posted on Aug 31, 2021 at 11:56 PM

Fantastic article by the way, my sweet @Benjanime.❤❤

I remember having this gem on one of those official demo CDs that came with the PlayStation. And yeah, I played Wild 9 many times this way as it's one of the most fun games from that time.

It's easy to notice that the idea for Wild 9 came from the two-dimensional experiences with the Earthworm Jim series, which by the way was a huge success for its charisma, fun, character attitude and "cell animation" technology bringing many animation frames. The idea is innovative, fun and the game is enjoyable to play. The PlayStation received many important games throughout its commercial life but luckily, those nostalgic and unforgettable games magazines of the time brought all the game releases, and Wild 9 was one of the highlights, becoming a desirable game.

Once again, my congratulations for the article always filled with unique charisma, nostalgia and always very well written, captivating those who read it. ;)

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